PORTO VECCHIO, France (VN) — A “truth and reconciliation” process over cycling’s torrid past is not only necessary, but it’s all but “inevitable,” according to Scot David Millar (Garmin-Sharp).
Fielding questions during a pre-Tour de France press conference Thursday, Millar said the best way for cycling to come to terms with its past and to move forward is to come clean.
“There’s an inevitability to it all,” Millar said of a possible truth and reconciliation process. “What we’re seeing now is micro events, individual truth and reconciliation. What we need is a macro event, so we can all move on.”
Millar was referring to recent revelations involving Laurent Jalabert’s positive EPO tests dating back to the 1998 Tour de France and admissions from Jan Ullrich that he worked with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.
Millar, who served a two-year ban for EPO charges in 2004-06, said if cycling does not embrace some sort of reconciliation, the endless doping stories may never stop despite indications that the sport has dramatically cleaned up its act.
“If we just let it happen, it will never stop. It will go on for decades,” he said. “I think now everyone knows what happened in the past. We need to reconcile that.”
Garmin-Sharp CEO Jonathan Vaughters agreed that some sort of TNR process is an essential step for the sport that’s been crippled by doping scandals.
“Having it come out in little dribs and drabs, like with Jalabert, is ridiculous, painful, and unnecessary,” Vaughters said. “You see Jalabert, he’s trapped. We could get it done with truth and reconciliation. Let’s move the sport forward, let’s own up to the past, let’s learn from it, and then move forward.”
The notion of a truth and reconciliation has been bandied about for years, but the idea gained urgency in the wake of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation of the U.S. Postal Service doping conspiracy last fall.
That case laid bare cycling’s EPO past and helped tip the balance toward coming clean as a path toward moving forward.
The idea is stuck, however, as cycling’s governing body has waivered on whether it’s a good idea or how one might take place. Without clear leadership on the issue, the sport continues to get bogged down by doping revelations dating back over the past two decades.
Vaughters said Garmin had its own internal version of TNR. Several riders, including Vaughters, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, and Tom Danielson, provided testimony in the USADA case.
“We’ve been knocking on that door for years. We did it, I did it. And we had tremendous support from our sponsors, our fans, the media,” Vaughters said. “This team is a great example of sometimes it’s better to take the gut check and move on. I hope more people would choose to go down that road.”